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|Ryan Mango shooting for another national title at ASICS/USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Kids, Cadet, Junior Folkstyle Special Section
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Ryan Mango of Missouri wasn't planning on competing at this weekend's ASICS/USA Wrestling Folkstyle National Championships.
That is until two weeks ago when his phone rang.
The caller on the other end was his big brother Spenser Mango, a World University Games champion and Junior World bronze medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling. Spenser encouraged Ryan to compete at Folkstyle Nationals.
Ryan, as he normally does, followed his brother's advice and recorded a first-period pin in his first-round 98-pound Cadet match Friday night at the UNI-Dome. Mango snatched a single-leg takedown and quickly followed by turning Minnesota's Logan Otomo to his back with a power half-nelson to start the tournament. Mango also won by fall in his second match late Friday night to advance to the quarterfinals.
Mango is in a loaded 98 class that includes USA Wrestling Triple Crown winner Jesse Thielke of Wisconsin and Florida state prep champion Clark Glass.
"This is a real good competition for me," said Mango, who is from St. Louis. "It's fun getting to wrestle some of the top guys from all over the country. It's a good challenge for me."
The three-day Folkstyle Nationals kicked off Friday night and will run through Sunday afternoon. There were a record 2,145 wrestlers who registered Friday in styles ranging from Bantams up through Juniors. Competition started for Juniors and Cadets on Friday with Kids and Veterans opening competition on Saturday.
The 15-year-old Mango, a double Cadet Nationals champion in freestyle and Greco-Roman last summer, recently won a Missouri high school state title for Whitfield at 103. The prep sophomore placed third at state as a freshman at 103 despite weighing only 95 pounds that season. His natural weight is pushing 110 now.
Mango originally did not plan to compete this weekend since he's going to compete next week in the Western Junior Regionals in Las Vegas. But he changed his mind after his brother called.
"Spenser just asked me if I had planned on wrestling and he told me I should," Ryan said. "That was a couple weeks ago and I decided to take his advice."
Many people expect Ryan Mango to follow his brother and ultimately wrestle Greco-Roman. Spenser Mango, who is just 20 years old, wrestles in the U.S. Olympic Education Center program for Greco-Roman at Northern Michigan University.
"I haven't made up my mind which I style I plan to wrestle," Ryan Mango said. "Freestyle and Greco, I do like those styles better than folkstyle. But I enjoy wrestling all of the styles. They're all fun for me."
Mango started wrestling at a much younger age than his brother, who didn't get his start until his freshman year in high school.
"It's an advantage for me to start earlier, but if you wrestle too much you can get burned out on the sport and don't want to do it anymore," he said. "I took a little break after the high-school season and I also took some time off at the end of the summer. You need to take some time to relax and hang out, or you will get burned out."
Ryan was asked how big an influence Spenser has had on him.
"Very big," Ryan said, flashing a smile. "He's always giving me good advice and teaching me things. He encourages me to keep working hard."
Mango said winning both styles at Cadet Nationals gave him a boost. He was named Outstanding Wrestler in Greco-Roman.
"It was really nice," Mango said. "All the hard work that I put in during the summer really paid off for me. Everything came together up in Fargo."